News

Compound from medicinal herb kills brain-eating amoebae in lab studies

Compound from medicinal herb kills brain-eating amoebae in lab studies
Science
Primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a deadly disease caused by the "brain-eating amoeba" Naegleria fowleri, is becoming more common in some areas of the world, and it has no effective treatment. Now, researchers reporting in ACS Chemical Neuroscience have found that a compound isolated from the leaves of a traditional medicinal plant, Inula viscosa or "false yellowhead," kills the amoebae by causing them to commit cell suicide in lab studies, which could lead to new treatments.

advertisement

PAM, characterized by headache, fever, vomiting, hallucinations and seizures, is almost always fatal within a couple of weeks of developing symptoms. Although the disease, which is usually contracted by swimming in contaminated freshwater, is rare, increasing cases have been reported recently in the U.S., the Philippines, southern Brazil and some Asian countries. Amphotericin B is the most common therapy given to those with the infection. It can kill N. fowleri in the lab, but it isn t very effective when given to patients, likely because it cannot cross the blood-brain barrier. Ikrame Zeouk, José Piñero, Jacob Lorenzo-Morales and colleagues wanted to explore whether compounds isolated from I. viscosa, a strong-smelling plant that has long been used for traditional medicine in the Mediterranean region, could effectively treat PAM.

The researchers first made an ethanol extract from the herb s leaves, finding that it could kill N. fowleri amoebae. Then, they isolated and tested specific compounds from the extract. The most potent compound, inuloxin A, killed amoebae in the lab by disrupting membranes and causing mitochondrial changes, chromatin condensation and oxidative damage, ultimately forcing the parasites to undergo programmed cell death, or apoptosis. Although inuloxin A was much less potent than amphotericin B in the lab, the structure of the plant-derived compound suggests that it might be better able to cross the blood-brain barrier. More studies are needed to confirm this hypothesis, the researchers say.

The authors acknowledge funding from the European Regional Development Fund, the Spanish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, the University of La Laguna and the Augustin de Betancourt Foundation.

Materials provided by American Chemical Society . Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

American Chemical Society. "Compound from medicinal herb kills brain-eating amoebae in lab studies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 January 2021. .

American Chemical Society. "Compound from medicinal herb kills brain-eating amoebae in lab studies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/01/210113132411.htm (accessed January 13, 2021).

advertisement

1

Feb. 12, 2020 — Brain-eating amoebae can cause particularly harmful forms of encephalitis, and more than 95% of people who develop these rare but devastating infections die. Despite the high mortality rate, there is ...

Oct. 26, 2018 — Biologists have isolated 17 secondary metabolites, including three novel compounds from the valuable endangered tropical plant species Alangium longiflorum. A newly isolated compound, ...

Sep. 13, 2018 — Researchers have now identified three new molecular drug targets in Naegleria fowleri and a number of drugs that are able to inhibit the amoeba s growth in a laboratory dish. Several of these ...

Mar. 1, 2016 — Our innate immune system uses two mechanisms. The first kills foreign bodies within the phagocyte itself. The second kills them outside the cell. Microbiologists have discovered that a social amoeba ...
Read more on sciencedaily.com
News Topics :
RELATED STORIES :
World
RALEIGH, N.C. North Carolina health officials say a person has died from a rare brain eating amoeba after swimming in a manmade lake at a water park. The state Department...
Science
Although infections with brain eating amoebae Naegleria fowleri are rare, they are almost always deadly. Most cases result from inhaling warm, dirty water in ponds, hot springs or unchlorinated swimming pools....
Health
This combo of images provided by the Center for Disease Control shows the Naegleria fowleri amoeba in the flagellated stage. AP / Center For Disease Control Published Friday, August...
World
This combo of images provided by the Center for Disease Control shows the Naegleria fowleri amoeba in the flagellated stage. AP / Center For Disease Control Published Thursday, July...
World
Residents of eight cities have been alerted that a brain eating amoeba was found in a southeast Texas water supply, leading one of the towns to issue a disaster declaration. The...